Hang your head in shame, Mr Howard

Tories just as guilty in war fiasco

BBC NEWS | Election 2005 | Election 2005 | Blair faces Iraq legal pressure

It was the Tories who made the war possible. Without them, Tony Blair could not have got his majority in the House of Commons. And now they want to pin the blame on Blair, and get off themselves scot-free.

But it won’t wash, Mr Howard.

Today’s revelations – that Lord Goldsmith gave earlier advice suggesting that a second resolution in the UN would be a safer course – are bad for Blair. True, it’s the kind of advice that any lawyer would give: take the safer course, don’t expose yourself.

But it doesn’t help Howard. From the point of view of the Tories, what Goldsmith said is utterly, utterly irrelevant. Because the Tories decided off their own bat that the war would be legal. They were not the ones in the cabinet meeting listening to Goldsmith a few days later promising that war would be legal. They were not invited to that meeting.

Instead, they made their own minds up, just as the Liberal-Democrats did. But the difference: we concluded that the war would not be legal. They decided to back it.

Did we need the government to tell us whether it would be legal or not? Would we have believed them anyway?

Of course not.

And neither did the Tories. If Goldsmith’s advice to cabinet was upgraded, then the Tories must have played the same murky game with their own consciences.

We could see the war was wrong. Why couldn’t they?

The answer is, of course they could. But they chose, as a piece of political strategy, to support a war because they thought it would do them good with the electorate.

We chose not to, even though we were warned it might lose us our seats.

We were proved right, they were proved wrong.

And they should have the good grace to admit it, and move on.

But no. Desperate to get some political leverage out of it, Michael Howard now accuses Blair of being a liar.

Perhaps he is. Personally, I believe that Tony Blair was sincere but wrong. I question his competence, not his honesty.

But the Tories? If anyone is behaving dishonestly, and has behaved dishonestly, it is they.

Hang your head in shame, Mr Howard. You deserve to be punished for this at the polls, and if the opinion surveys are anything to go by, you will be.

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